Portland State visits Thursday in rematch of 74-58 Viking win, followed by visit from Idaho State on Saturday
EWU vs. Portland State
Thursday, Jan. 27 - 7:05 p.m. Pacific
Reese Court - Cheney, Wash.
EWU vs. Idaho State
Saturday, Jan. 29 - 7:05 p.m. Pacific
Reese Court - Cheney, Wash.
TV (PSU): Televised regionally by SWX (SWX Digital 6.2 in Spokane, 25.3 in the Tri-Cities & 23.3 in the Yakima area; Comcast 115; Time Warner 306; Charter 287).
Radio: (all EWU games) 700 ESPN "The Ticket" and http://www.espnnorthwest.com
Webcasts (All home games and all Big Sky Conference games): http://www.bigskytv.org
Live Stats: (EWU home games): http://web.ewu.edu/groups/athletics/mbasketball/mblivestats/xlive.htm
The road hasn't been kind to the Eagles, and the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team is hoping to take out its frustrations on a pair of visitors this week.
Eastern continues Big Sky Conference play with a pair of home games this week, hosting Portland State on Thursday (Jan. 27) and Idaho State on Saturday (Jan. 29) in a pair of games that begin at 7:05 p.m. at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The PSU game will be televised live on SWX in Spokane (SWX Digital 6.2 in Spokane, 25.3 in the Tri-Cities & 23.3 in the Yakima area; Comcast 115; Time Warner 306; Charter 287).
The radio broadcast of the all Eastern games may be heard on 700-AM ESPN "The Ticket" and via the web at www.espnnorthwest.com, with veteran play-by-play broadcaster Dennis Patchin calling the action. All home games and other Big Sky Conference games may also be viewed free of charge at www.bigskytv.org.
Eastern is coming off a split, winning impressively at home against Northern Arizona by a 72-59 score on Jan. 20, but then falling at Sacramento State 57-55 two nights later.
While the Eagles are 0-11 on the road this season with a 17-game road losing streak dating back to last year, the Eagles have won five of eight games at Reese Court. The Eagles now play five of their final nine league games at home. Plus, Eastern will host a yet to be announced opponent on either Feb. 18 or 19 in the ESPN BracketBusters.
Eastern enters action this week 5-14 overall and 2-5 in the Big Sky Conference. Earlier this season, Eastern fell at Portland State 74-58, and the Vikings will enter Thursday's game with a 10-9 record overall and 3-4 conference mark. Idaho State, which hosts Montana State on Monday (Jan. 24) and is at Sacramento State on Thursday (Jan. 27), is currently 5-13 overall and 1-5 in the conference.
The Eagles are hoping the appearances at home help them find their shooting eye. Eastern made 44 percent against Northern Arizona, including 6-of-17 (35 percent) from the three-point line. Against Sac State, Eastern made only 41 percent overall and was just 4-of-19 (25 percent) from the arc. Eastern also had 15 turnovers in each game.
"We still have work to do offensively," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine, whose team had a rash of early-season injuries that have since subsided. "We talk after games and on Monday nights how ragged things are because we've only been together for five weeks. So much is familiarity and timing, and we didn't have that (against Sac State). We're still trying to play catch-up."
However, Earlywine has been pleased by his team's defense in recent games. Eastern has held only three NCAA Division opponents to 60 points or less, and two of those came last week. One game earlier at Montana State on Jan. 11, the Eagles held MSU to 30 percent shooting en route to leading 29-23 at halftime, but then allowed the Bobcats to make 73 percent in the second half as the Eagles fell 71-59.
"In five of the last six halves we are starting to develop an identity defensively where we can keep ourselves in games when we are not shooting the ball well," said Earlywine. "It was a matter against Sacramento State that the ball didn't go in the basket."
Coaches Shows Take Place Mondays: Eagle Coaches Shows at Northern Quest Casino and Resort will feature head men's basketball coach Kirk Earlywine and play-by-play announcer Dennis Patchin during the 2010-11 season.
Shows begin at 6 p.m., and take place on Mondays through the end of the season. The show will take place live from Northern Quest in the former broadcast room adjacent to the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant. Fans will be able to order food and beverages and listen to the show from that location, as well as watch Monday Night Football and other sporting events.
The show is aired on 700-AM ESPN "The Ticket" and via the internet at www.espnnorthwest.com
Northern Quest is located at 100 N. Hayford Road in Airway Heights. From downtown Spokane, take exit 277 off I-90 and follow Highway 2 for 4.4 miles, then turn right on Hayford Road and follow for 1.0 miles. From Cheney, take exit 272 off I-90 and follow WA-902 toward Medical Lake for just 0.3 miles. Take a right on Geiger Blvd., followed by a quick left on Hayford Road and follow for 4.4 miles.
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
Big Sky Conference Basketball -- http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=basketball&path=mbball
NCAA Basketball -- http://www.ncaa.com/sports/m-baskbl/ncaa-m-baskbl-body.html
ESPN College Scoreboard -- http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/scoreboard
Rodney Stuckey NBA Page -- http://www.nba.com/playerfile/rodney_stuckey/index.html
More Information and Links are Available at: HTTP://WWW.GOEAGS.COM
Recent EWU Men's Basketball Headlines . . .
January 22, 2011 - Sacramento State Wins Over Eagles With One Second Left, 57-55
January 20, 2011 - Eastern Beats Big Sky's Top Offensive Team 72-59
January 16, 2011 - Despite "Outstanding" First Half, Eagles Fall to MSU 71-59
January 13, 2011 - Points Hard to Come By in 66-47 Loss to Montana
January 8, 2011 - Eastern Overcomes Slow Start But Loses at PSU 74-58
January 6, 2011 - Eastern Falls at Seattle 60-51
December 31, 2010 - Bears Hold Off Eagles for 75-73 Win
December 29, 2010 - Eastern Beats Sacramento State 88-79 in Overtime
December 20, 2010 - Eastern Can't Hold Seven-Point Lead in Second Half and Loses 78-72
December 18, 2010 - Eagles Shoot 21 Percent From the Field and Fall to Cornhuskers 72-42
December 15, 2010 - Eagles Hold Off Seattle 95-91 For First D-I Win
December 12, 2010 - Glen Dean Makes Debut and Scores 23 in Narrow Loss
December 4, 2010 - Eastern Romps Past New Hope 112-41 on Record-Breaking Night
November 30, 2010 - Three-Pointers Bury Eagles as Gonzaga Cruises to 86-57 Win
November 27, 2010 - Winford Sets School Record with Eight Treys in Loss
November 24, 2010 - Eagles Drop Road Game in Boise, 83-54
November 18, 2010 - Fast Start Helps Eastern Win 96-87|
November 16, 2010 - Promising Start for Naught as Eagles Fall to Huskies 98-72
November 12, 2010 - Despite Strong Defensive Effort, Eagles Begin Season With 67-60 Loss
November 8, 2010 - Eastern Falls to Montana State-Billings 66-60
November 5, 2010 - Eagles Should Have More Firepower Available Monday
November 2, 2010 - Shorthanded Eagles Fall to Seattle Pacific 87-82
October 29, 2010 - SEASON OUTLOOK: Returning Guards Key to Eastern's Big Sky Hopes
Eagles in Big Sky Conference Statistics: In Big Sky Conference statistics, Eastern features the league's third-leading rebounder in junior college transfer Cliff Ederaine, who is averaging 8.2 rebounds per game. Teammate Laron Griffin is seventh (6.6), with Griffin and Ederaine ranking 2-3 in the league in offensive rebounds, respectively (3.4, 3.3). As a team, Eastern is leading the league in overall rebounds per game (36.6), offensive rebounds (13.4) and offensive rebound percentage (.354). Ederaine is fourth in blocked shots (1.4), teammate Tremayne Johnson is fifth (1.3) and Griffin is eighth (0.8) as the Eagles rank second as a team in the league (4.4).
Eastern, however, is last in field goal percentage (.402) and turnover margin (-2.6 per game), and is second-to-last in scoring defense (72.8) and free throw percentage (.651). The Eagles are fourth in the league in three-pointers made per game (7.7) and field goal percentage defense (.433).
Also, Kevin Winford leads in three-pointers made per game (2.5) and is 18th in scoring (11.2). Jeffrey Forbes is second in the league in free throw percentage (48-of-54 for 88.9 percent), fifth in three-pointers made per game (2.1) and 19th in scoring (11.1). Glen Dean's averages of 12.3 points and 4.7 assists would rank 13th and second, respectively, had he played in enough games to qualify (15 games; he has played in 12).
Road Skid Up to 17: The loss at Sac State extended EWU's losing streak on the road to 17 games -- 11 games this year and six to end the 2009-10 season. The last time Eastern tasted victory on the road was a year ago on Jan. 10, 2010, when Dean made a game-winning, six-foot running bank shot with 3.8 seconds to play in a 75-73 victory at Montana State.
Prior to the NAU win, Eastern had finished winless on a four-game road stretch. Eastern closed the stretch with a 71-59 loss at MSU on Jan. 16, and also lost 66-47 at Montana on Jan. 11. In both games against the Grizzlies and Bobcats, a 15-1 run contributed greatly to putting EWU in a hole it could not dig out of.
In the first three games of that four-game road trip, the Eagles trailed from start of finish in each. Eastern trailed the entire way versus PSU in a 74-68 road loss on Jan. 8 and all but 2:11 of a 60-51 loss versus Seattle two days earlier. They led for just 40 seconds versus the Redhawks. Aside from ties of 0-0 and 6-6, Eastern trailed for all but 2:11 of a 66-47 loss against Montana on Jan. 13.
Close Games at Home: Prior to the 13-point win over NAU, Eastern's last three home games were all close, with two decided by a total of just six points and the third going into overtime. One of them was a 95-91 victory over Seattle on Dec. 15 in which the Eagles made their last six free throws in that game to clinch the win after the Redhawks had cut the lead to two. Eastern's last field goal attempt came with 4:24 left as EWU made 22-of-27 free throws in the last 7:25. The Eagles followed that with an 88-79 overtime win over Sacramento State on Dec. 29, and a 75-73 loss to league-leading Northern Colorado on Dec. 31.
Eagles Shooting 46 Percent at Home and 36 Percent on the Road: With a 5-3 record at home and 0-11 mark on the road, you don't have to look much further than shooting percentage to see a major reason why. Eastern has made 45.6 percent at home (40.6 percent from the three-point line), leading to an average of 82.0 points per game. On the road, Eastern is shooting at a 36.1 percent clip (29.4 percent from the arc) and has averaged just 57.8 points per game.
Opponents have made only 39.9 percent at Reese Court but 45.8 percent on their home courts. Additionally, Eastern has a plus 6.0 rebounding margin at home, and is a minus 4.5 on the road.
Forbes Hot at Home, Frosty on the Road: Eastern sophomore guard Jeffrey Forbes obviously likes his home court much more than the road. He is averaging a team-leading 17.1 points per game at home, making 48.7 percent of his shots overall and 51.1 percent from three-point range. On the road, he is fifth on the team with a 6.7 average on 28.2 percent shooting overall and 28.8 percent from the arc.
For the season, Forbes has scored in double figures 10 times, and has led the team in scoring twice. He has a team-leading four 20-point performances, including 23 versus New Hope and 21 in back-to-back home games versus Sacramento State and Northern Colorado. He is third on the team with an 11.1 scoring average, making 38.0 percent of his field goal attempts overall and 39-of-99 three-point attempts (39.4 percent). He has also made 48-of-54 free throws (88.9 percent) and is averaging 1.7 assists per outing.
Junior College Transfer Tremayne Johnson Has Huge Game in Victory: Junior Tremayne Johnson had by far his best game of the season in Eastern's 95-91 victory over Seattle on Dec. 15. He scored a career-high 26 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor and 9-of-10 marksmanship from the free throw line. He also had eight rebounds and four blocked shots as he responded in a big way from a three-point, one-rebound effort at San Jose State on Dec. 12.
For the season, Johnson has scored in double figures nine times, including 13 and 14, respectively, last week against Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. He is fourth on the team with a 10.4 scoring average for the season, making 42.8 percent of his field goal attempts. He is also averaging 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game.
"There was a lot of read and react basketball that took the thinking out of it for Tremayne," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine of Johnson's performance against Seattle. "He has the most difficult position to learn in all the things we are doing offensively. The (two forward positions) are dramatically different in all of our sets, and he has to learn those two spots. Seattle scrambled the game and when they did that it became read and react, and it played into Tremayne's hands."
Johnson is an extremely athletic and talented 6-foot-7 forward who played one season with EWU teammate Laron Griffin at Los Angeles Southwest Junior College. Johnson attended EWU for the first time in January 2010 after completing his associate degree, but as a mid-year transfer, could not play because of NCAA rules. He was recruited by San Francisco and Arizona, but originally signed a letter of intent with the Eagles in spring 2009 and then re-signed in November 2009.
A starter in six of Eastern's first eight games of the season, Johnson came off the bench in the victory over Seattle. One of his baskets included a high-flying, rim-rattling fast-break that caused fans to gasp in amazement. Earlywine was posed the question of whether or not Johnson was more comfortable coming off the bench than as a starter.
"I don't really care about his comfort as much as mine," laughed Earlywine, who heaped praise upon Johnson for diving on the floor for a loose ball and coming up with a steal with the Eagles leading by four with less than 40 seconds remaining. "Tremayne made an unbelievable effort to get to that loose ball. Two Seattle guys were closer to that loose ball than him, and he beat them to it and dove on it. That may be the first time he has ever dove on the floor for a loose ball in his life. I should go check with him to see if there are any broken bones or if he needs to go to the hospital because I think that's what he thinks is going to happen if he dives on the floor. But seriously, he made an unbelievable effort."
Winford Breaks Own Three-Point Record: Sophomore guard Kevin Winford poured in 39 points -- including a record 10 three-pointers -- in Eastern's overwhelming 112-41 non-conference victory over New Hope Christian College on Dec. 4.
For the season, Winford has scored in double figures 10 times, and has led the team in scoring on six occasions. He is second on the team with an 11.2 scoring average for the season, making 48.5 percent of his field goal attempts overall and 48-of-130 three-point attempts (36.9 percent). He has also made 25-of-30 free throws (83.3 percent), including 17-of-19 in league play (89.5).
En route to the fifth-best scoring night in school history against New Hope, Winford broke the school record of nine treys he set just a week earlier against Idaho on Nov. 27. As a team, the Eagles broke the school record for made three-pointers (18) and three pointers attempted (43), and tied the mark for field goals made in a game with 45. Previous records were 16 three-pointers versus Cascade on Dec. 14, 2007; 38 attempts versus Nevada on Feb. 14, 1991; and 45 field goals made against U.S. International on Feb. 2, 1991.
Winford's 23 three-point attempts were also a Big Sky Conference record, breaking the previous mark of 17 set by Nevada's Kevin Franklin against Oregon on Dec. 16, 1989. His makes were third-most, with Portland State's Brian Towne owning the record with 12 in a 1998 game against Idaho State. As a team, Eastern was two made three-pointers from the Big Sky record of 20, but its 43 attempts were a record. The previous league mark of 41 was set by Weber State against Utah State in the 1993-94 season.
Against Idaho just seven days earlier, Winford finished with what was then a career-high with 28 points as he made 8-of-16 treys, breaking the record for attempts as well. Winford, a 2008 graduate of Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska, broke the previous record of seven three-pointers set on 11 different occasions by five different Eagles. The latest was Marc Axton versus Gonzaga on Dec. 21, 2004, and the first was Greg Gaulding versus New Mexico on Feb. 1, 1987. Shannon Taylor had five of the performances during his two-year career from 1998-99.
Winford's previous career high for points was 20 set twice last season as a redshirt freshman.
Dean Finally Cleared to Play: Sophomore Glen Dean, the Freshman of the Year in the Big Sky Conference last season when he averaged 12.2 points and 4.4 assists per game, was cleared to practice on Dec. 8.
In 12 games thus far, Dean is averaging 12.3 points and 4.7 assists per game to lead the Eagles in both categories. He has led the team in scoring four times, and has scored in double figures on eight occasions, including a season-high 23 in his first game back. He had a season-high eight assists against Sacramento State on Jan. 22.
Despite missing valuable practice time, head coach Kirk Earlywine made certain the two months off the floor weren't a total loss for Dean, who is a 2008 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Wash.
"Sometimes it's good when players have to step back and take a look at things from the bench," explained Earlywine. "It was very noticeable that Glen sat very close to me during games so he could hear the decision-making process and what happens during games. As a coach on the floor, hopefully that will help him in the long run."
Dean, who was out for two months with a stress fracture in his foot, made his debut on Dec. 12 against San Jose State and finished with 23 points, four assists and just one turnover in 30 minutes of action. Dean made his first appearance of the season at home at Reese Court in Eastern's 95-91 win over Seattle on Dec. 15, and finished with 11 points, four assists and a steal in 28 minutes of action.
Prior to making his debut, he practiced just twice prior for an hour each after getting cleared to play. With the 2009-10 Freshman of the Year back in the lineup, Eastern can concentrate on building its team around a player who averaged 12.2 points and 4.4 assists a year ago.
"It goes to show the amount of time and work he put in on a bike, the stair master, in the swimming pool and in the training room," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said. "It's quite a tribute to him and he has an unbelievable work capacity. The reason I feel good about our direction right now is that Jeffrey Forbes, Kevin Winford and Glen Dean know how to work. They know how hard and how long, and that's rubbing off on our other guys."
At the same time, Eastern welcomed back point guard Cliff Colimon, who had missed the previous three games and four total games with a sprained ankle. Plus, forward Rashano McRae missed those same three games and valuable practice time with a concussion.
McRae was coming off his best outing of the year when he suffered his concussion, and had missed valuable practice time early in the year with back spasms. The 6-foot-7 junior college transfer had three points, five rebounds and four assists on Nov. 24 at Boise State.
Coupled with Willie Hankins getting cleared by the NCAA to practice with the team -- but not yet play in games -- Earlywine was overjoyed to have 15 players practicing on Dec. 9 for the first time the entire season.
The Point-Less Eagles: The Eagles played four of its first seven games without the availability of both point guards -- Glen Dean and Cliff Colimon.
Colimon had injured the ankle earlier in the year and missed EWU's opener against San Jose State, then played three games before injuring it again in practice two days after EWU lost at Boise State on Nov. 24. Dean had a stress fracture in his foot and missed the first seven games after earning Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year accolades in the 2009-10 season when he averaged 12.2 points and 4.4 assists per game.
"The only analogy I can think of is trying to play a football without a quarterback," said Earlywine. "If all your quarterbacks get hurt and you have to all of the sudden throw another player from another position in there, he has to be able to recognize coverages, audible, change plays, call the pass protection and those types of things. Chances are it's going to be a disaster."
Eastern averaged 17.9 turnovers per game in their first seven games, including eight in the first half against Idaho in which the Eagles fell behind at intermission 28-22. The lack of an experienced point guard was particularly noticeable in a 66-60 exhibition loss to Montana State-Billings on Nov. 8 as Eastern had only four assists and made just 15-of-60 shots from the field. The Eagles had 12 assists and made 37 percent from the field in a 67-60 loss against San Jose State, but had 12 of their 17 turnovers in the second half after leading 36-33 at intermission.
Colimon, a transfer from Eastern Utah Junior College, started and played Eastern's next three games until the loss to Idaho. He averaged 12.0 points and 2.1 assists in the three games he was able to play during that stretch in an average of 20.0 minutes per game. Because of the absence of a point guard for the most part this season, guard Jeffrey Forbes averaged 35.1 minutes per game in those first seven games. He and guard Kevin Winford (29.3 minutes per game in that span) played all 40 minutes against Idaho, and Forbes also played all 40 versus Gonzaga on Nov. 30.
Good Timing of Bad Situation: Eastern's injuries came at an ideal time, with 11 days between NCAA Division I games. Eastern lost to Gonzaga 86-57 on Nov. 30, and didn't play another DI opponent until San Jose State on Dec. 12. In between, Eastern defeated New Hope -- a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association -- 112-41 and took four days off from practicing for final exams at Eastern.
"When we made the schedule, we had no way of knowing we were going to have three of our top six or seven guys sitting on the bench when final exams rolled around," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said. "Having them sidelined with injuries came at a perfect time for us. In essence, we took four days completely off while our players took care of their school work, and that certainly helped us from a health perspective."
For The Second-Straight Season, Eagles Spend First Month Dealing with Injuries: Eastern got off to a rocky start on the injury front when practices started in mid-October for the 2010-11 season. Just a few days into practice, Eastern lost 2009-10 Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year Glen Dean due to a stress fracture in his foot. Dean averaged 12.2 points and 4.4 assists a year ago. He was finally cleared to practice and play on Dec. 8.
Early practices sidelined true freshman Geoffrey Allen, and he was feared lost for the season with what was thought to be a broken hand. But once swelling and bruising subsided, the injury wasn't as severe as first thought and he returned to practice on Nov. 10. He made his debut against San Jose, finishing with three points, three rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes of action. The son of former UCLA and NBA standout Lucius Allen, he is from Los Angeles, Calif., and is a 2010 graduate of Pacific Hills High School
Also, freshman Carter Warnock (who is now redshirting) missed two weeks with a severe case of pink eye, and did not play in EWU's exhibition opener versus Seattle Pacific. Point guard Cliff Colimon missed the second exhibition with a sprained ankle suffered on Nov. 7, and did not play in the season opener against San Jose. He hurt it again in a practice and missed three games from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4. Freshman walk-on redshirt Sean Fischer has a cartilage tear in his shoulder and has yet to make his first appearance in an Eagle uniform.
Actually, the rash of injuries started the week prior to practices starting when men's basketball athletic trainer Donald Sims suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, then assistant coach Jamie Matthews spent time in the hospital with a staph infection near his eye.
Besides injuries in early practices to Dean and Allen, returnee Laron Griffin and Colimon both suffered minor injuries within seconds of each other during the same drill. Griffin took an elbow to his head and Colimon was poked in the eye. Newcomer Rashano McRae suffered from back spasms in the opening practices and has missed practice time and one exhibition, then a concussion forced him to miss the same three games Colimon missed from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4.
Also, newcomer Willie Hankins was not cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse to practice until Dec. 9 and is still unable to play in games, further thinning further Earlywine's roster. At one point after the first weekend of practices, Earlywine remarked, "I don't know whether to laugh or cry."
A year ago, the Eagles spent the first month of the season dealing with injuries to five Eagles -- Gary Gibson (knees), Brandon Moore (foot and ankle), Abebe Demissie (hamstring), Kevin Winford (concussion) and Matthew Brunell (ankle). The missed time impacted Eastern not only in games, but in practice.
"We've already had a season's worth of bad luck," said Earlywine a year ago before Eastern's league opener on Dec. 5. "Hopefully we're close to being through it and we don't have any more. It's been hard, and it's been hard because you can't practice effectively."
Brunell and Winford suffered their injuries in the second game of the season, and Moore missed the Walla Walla game and parts of another with a sprained ankle. Moore also missed much of the preseason because of a foot injury that required minor surgery. Brunell missed five full games and parts of two others; Gibson missed six games; and Winford missed two.
Brunell continued to be bothered by his injury, and then missed Eastern's game against Sacramento State with an injury to his other ankle. Another sprained ankle, this time by starter Alden Gibbs, kept him out of four games from Jan. 15 to Jan. 23.
Eagles Receiving High Marks Academically: Eastern has a high-achieving team academically, with a team grade point average of over 3.0 in each term a year ago. Glen Dean, Jeffrey Forbes and Kevin Winford were all selected to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic Team, as all three had accumulative GPAs of 3.23 and above through the 2009-10 academic year.
Winford, in fact, is Eastern's nominee this winter for Capital One Academic All-America honors as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Through fall quarter 2011, Winford had a 3.44 grade point average as an interdisciplinary studies major in liberal arts. The minimum GPA to be nominated is 3.0. He will be selected to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team for the second time this winter.
Winford, Dean and Forbes are joined by several other recruits with impressive academic credentials, including a 4.0 high school GPA by Carter Warnock and 3.5 and above accumulative GPAs for Jaylen Henry and Geoffrey Allen. Cliff Ederaine expects to major in pre-med in hopes of becoming a doctor.
"That's an overlying theme with this year's incoming class of high school players and several others," said head coach Kirk Earlywine. "Three of our incoming freshmen are 3.5 students or higher, they come from good families and they are high-character kids. We want student-athletes who want to get a degree and are also good basketball players, and many of our student-athletes fall into those categories."
Eagles May Be The Least Experienced Team in NCAA Division I: Eastern has no seniors on its 2010-11 roster, and features a quartet of returning letter winners from last year's team that finished 9-21 overall and 5-11 in the Big Sky Conference. In preliminary results from a recent survey of NCAA Division I teams, no other school has less NCAA Division I experience than the Eagles, whose four returnees have lettered one year each.
Pair of Eagles Return to Puget Sound: Eagles Glen Dean and Jeffrey Forbes returned to the Puget Sound area when Eastern played at Washington on Nov. 16 and Jan. 6 when the Eagles played at Seattle.
Dean is a 2008 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, and Forbes is a 2009 graduate of Federal Way (Wash.) High School. Forbes helped Federal Way win the WIAA State 4A Championship in 2009.
Weber State Picked as the Team to Beat in League Race: The Eagles have been picked to finish sixth in the Big Sky Conference in both the media and coaches polls. Weber State, which has gone 28-4 in the BSC over the last two seasons and is the two-time defending league champion, is picked first in both polls. However, 2009-10 Big Sky MVP Damian Lillard was lost for the season with a foot injury before league play began.
"Weber State had kind of been the dominant team in the league the last three or four years, and the question we asked ourselves is 'what do we have to do to catch them and beat them?'" said Earlywine. "We can't sit back and hope they digress -- we have to go catch them."
"What we have to understand as a program is that the league is not going to back up -- we are going to have to catch them. In order to do that, the players in the program have to improve themselves -- not only in their skill level but also in their conditioning and strength. On top of that, we have to replace our five seniors with five players who are ultimately better. That's not a knock against those seniors, but that's just what we have to do to get better. You improve the players in your program and you go get better players to replace those who leave. That's what we are trying to do."
Eagles Versus Ranked Teams: Eastern lost to Washington 98-72 on Nov. 16 and 86-57 to Gonzaga on Nov. 30 in EWU's most recent games against nationally-ranked teams. Washington was ranked 17th by Associated Press and 15th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, and Gonzaga was 24th by the coaches.
Last year, the Eagles fell 94-52 to Gonzaga on Dec. 28, 2009, in EWU's most recent game against a nationally-ranked foe. The Bulldogs were ranked 22nd by ESPN/USA Today, but were just out of the top 25 at No. 26 by Associated Press. The 2008-09 season was the first time since 2002-03 that Eastern did not play a nationally-ranked team. The Eagles played 12 such games in the five seasons before that.
Eastern is 1-17 versus nationally-ranked teams -- including three games in the 2004-05 season alone as well as three the year before. Seven of the games came under former head coach Mike Burns and five others came under Ray Giacoletti from 2000-2004.
11/30/10 vs. #24 (ESPN/USA Today) Gonzaga - L, 57-86
11/16/10 vs. #17 Washington - L, 72-98
12/28/09 vs. #22 (ESPN/USA Today) Gonzaga - L, 52-94
12/5/07 vs. #3 Kansas - L, 47-85
11/9/07 vs. #10 Washington State - L, 41-68
12/15/06 vs. #22 Oregon - L, 74-100
11/24/06 vs. #16 Washington - L, 83-90
12/19/05 vs. #8 Gonzaga - L, 65-75
12/16/05 vs. #11 Washington - L, 74-91
12/28/04 vs. #14 Arizona - L, 45-79
12/21/04 vs. #13 Gonzaga - L, 70-83
12/5/04 vs. #14 Washington - L, 56-89
3/19/04 vs. #3 Oklahoma State - L, 56-75
12/31/03 vs. #16 Gonzaga - L, 49-70
11/21/03 vs. #14 Oklahoma - L, 59-69
11/15/01 vs. #10 St. Joseph's - W, 68-67
11/25/00 vs. #4 Michigan State - L, 61-83
1/21/85 vs. #10 DePaul - L, 50-72
EWU-PSU Series History -- Eastern has lost the last six meetings dating back to a 58-57 home win over the Vikings on Dec. 22, 2007. Before that, Eastern had won five of the last six meetings.
Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are now 16-15 versus the Vikings. All of the meetings have come since 1997 when PSU joined the Big Sky Conference. Despite losing the last six, the Eagles have still won 14 of the last 24 meetings, and Eastern is 10-5 in Cheney and 6-9 against PSU in Portland (0-1 on neutral courts) since 1983-84. Portland State leads the overall series 18-17, with EWU owning an 11-6 record in Cheney and 6-11 mark in Portland (0-1 on neutral courts) against the Vikings.
Earlier This Season -- Eastern Overcomes Slow Start But Loses at PSU 74-58: Despite holding Portland State without a field goal for nearly six minutes in the second half, a slow start doomed Eastern Washington University in a 74-58 loss to Portland State Jan. 8 in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game at the Stott Center in Portland, Ore.
The Eagles fell behind 12-2, but rallied to within six in the second half with an 8-0 run. Eastern held Portland State without a field goal for 5:53, but couldn't complete the comeback as the Eagles scored only seven points in the final six minutes.
"It was really a struggle for us in the first half, and it was ugly, but we kind of dug in and hung in there," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "Despite not shooting the ball well, we hung in there and had some big defensive possessions."
Junior forward Tremayne Johnson scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Eagles, and sophomore guard Glen Dean added 16 points and six assists as EWU fell to 4-11 for the season and 1-3 in the Big Sky. The Vikings improved to 9-6 overall and 2-1 in the league.
Eastern missed its first five shots and had three turnovers as the Eagles didn't score for the first 5:05 of the game as PSU jumped out to its 12-2 lead. The Vikings took a 38-25 advantage late in the half before settling for an 11-point halftime lead.
The Vikings took their biggest lead of the night at 53-38, but that's when the Eagles made their 8-0 run to cut the advantage to 53-46 with an 8-0 run. Portland State went 2 1/2 minutes without scoring in that stretch and went from the 11:15 mark to the 5:22 mark without a field goal.
But a three-point play by Chehales Tapscott, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Vikings, re-ignited the Vikings with 5:22 left. That gave them a 61-51 lead as they closed the game with a 16-7 run.
Cliff Ederaine had 14 rebounds for Eastern as the Eagles had a 41-40 advantage on the glass, including 14 offensive rebounds. However, Portland State made 44 percent of its shots from the field, made 18-of-27 free throws (67 percent) and had only 10 turnovers.
"Cliff Ederaine had 14 rebounds and Tremayne Johnson continues to show a little bit more every game of what we expect of him," said Earlywine of the bright spots for his team. "And Geoffrey Allen helped us tonight. His length and his athletic ability on the defensive end of the floor helped us, plus he had two offensive boards. Those are things we can draw from moving forward."
Dean and Johnson combined for 13-of-27 shooting, but the rest of the team was just 7-of-38 (18 percent). That led to a 30-percent shooting night for the Eagles.
"It was similar to the game at South Dakota," said Earlywine of a narrow 78-72 loss on the road on Dec. 20. "They played zone against us and so did Portland State. We were too reliant and too eager to shoot a three-pointer and not work hard enough to get the ball inside. In the final 13 or 14 minutes of the game we saw big Cliff and Tremayne in the post a little better and on some of those occasions were able to come up with some points down there. But not enough."
EWU-Idaho State Series History (Since 1983-84): Eastern has won 19 of the past 28 meetings against the Bengals, including sweeps in the 2001-02, 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. Idaho State swept the Eagles in the regular season in 2002-03, but Eastern won the third meeting by a 76-67 score in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Last year, Eastern lost at Idaho State 80-74 but won 79-71 in Cheney where the season ended for both teams.
Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 30-26 against the Bengals, including a 21-7 record in Cheney and 8-18 mark in Pocatello (1-1 on neutral courts). Eastern lost eight-straight games to ISU from 1993 to 1997, and leads in the all-time series 33-27 (23-6 in Cheney, 9-20 in Pocatello, 1-1 neutral).